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Important Work
Letters to the Editor

Earth Island Journal
2150 Allston Way #460
Berkeley, CA 94704
editor@earthisland.org

Thank you for your article “America’s Toxic Prisons” (Summer 2017). I have been doing a lot of research on valley fever and California prisons since my sister-in-law’s brother contracted it shortly after becoming a prisoner at Taft Correctional Institution in California. When he became sick, he pleaded for medical help for two weeks, but was ignored by the Taft medical staff, which is unconscionable considering the history of valley fever at Taft and other Central Valley prisons. He was finally treated for valley fever after being found unconscious on his cell bed. Thanks again for your article, which is a valuable resource for prisoners and their families.

Mike Reizman
Long Beach, CA

Irreparable Harm

Thank you for your feature on the Venezuelan government’s decision to open up the Orinco Belt to mining (“Arc of Desperation,” Autumn 2017). The environmental impacts of the mining activities in the region are severe, and the toll of the Guri dam, which supplies power for nearby mining operations, is terrible. What’s more, Indigenous people are being exploited in this dangerous mining work. The gold and minerals that can be extracted from the Arco Minero will be insufficient to compensate for the irreparable harm to Venezuela’s Caroni Basin. I appreciate the attention Earth Island Journal has given to this ecological crime. (Translated from Spanish.)

Lincoln Martinez
San Cristobal, Venezuela

Shedding Light on Mining

Arc of Desperation” (Autumn 2017) is a very good article about the impact of mining in Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt. Venezuelan people do not know what really happens in this mining region, and Earth Island Journal’s feature sheds light on this important issue.

Lorenzo Caballero Diaz
Maracaibo, Venezuela

Ethical Sensibilities

graphic comicwww.bizarro.com

It’s truly terrific that you have given us this fascinating interview with Lori Marino, prominent expert on the behavior and mentality of nonhuman animals, as well as an advocate for treating animals always with due moral regard (Conversation, Summer 2017). I hope many people read it, and take it to heart. We can and should question the anthropocentrist approach that lies behind what is commonly understood as “science,” and that routinely justifies the deadly exploitation of many kinds of nonhuman animals (the greatest numbers of them being rats and mice, and also rayfin fishes, who have no legal protections, and who find far fewer friends than such animals as chimpanzees). In this context, we should note how very necessary Marino’s advocacy is, not only for the exploited animals, but also for the students and young scientists whose ethical sensibilities are trampled and crushed as though they were the hateful seeds of anti-scientific heresy. Marino says, “When I was teaching, I had a lot of students in my office crying, under such stress, because they were made to believe that you are either going to be a science major and cut up animals in a lab, or you are not.” That kind of treatment at the hands of established scientists is disgraceful. It is unjust, it is bullying, it is abusive; and in fact, it is anti-intellectual, for so brutally suppressing the free thought of reasonable questioners.

Mark Caponigro
New York, NY

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